Poll grief for farmers as UP wheat procurement falls 40% to 2.7 mn tonnes

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections have taken a toll on Uttar Pradesh farmers with wheat procurement falling by almost 40 per cent to 2.7 million tonnes (MT) from over 3.7 MT during the corresponding period last year.

This year, the Yogi Adityanath government had set a 10 per cent higher wheat procurement target of 5.5 MT compared to 5 MT during the 2018 rabi marketing season, which further pulls down the net procurement ratio pegged against seasonal target.

The wheat procurement season commences on April 1 every year, and continues for two and a half months till June 15, 2019. This means less than a month is left for the 2019 wheat procurement season to wind up with nearly 50 per cent of the target still remaining to be achieved, and it would be an uphill task for the state government to measure up to the goal.

Elections require deployment of government staff for poll duties, apart from imposing curbs on free movement during polling in constituencies. This apparently has impacted the wheat procurement process in the state.

Procurement of rice and wheat had earlier clocked robust figures under the incumbent Adityanath government, which came to power in March 2017. For example, the state had registered wheat procurement of 3.7 MT in 2017, up a staggering 460 per cent from a mere 0.8 MT in 2016. This rose further by 43 per cent to 5.3 MT in 2018.

Meanwhile, the chief minister, who had been busy with electioneering in UP and other states, is now back to his normal routine. According to sources, he has convened a review meeting in Lucknow this evening to take stock of the situation in sugarcane, agriculture, infrastructure etc.

According to the state food and civil supplies department, so far nearly 2.7 MT of wheat had been procured from 530,000 state farmers, who been paid over Rs 5,000 crore directly in their bank accounts against the purchase. Nearly, 6,755 procurement centres are currently operational across the state.

UP wheat procurement target of 5.5 MT is roughly 15 per cent of the country’s seasonal wheat purchase goal of 37 MT, implying the importance it commands in supplying the staple food grain to the central pool.

Pegged against the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,840 per quintal, the UP farmers are expected to fetch net wheat payments worth more than Rs 10,000 crore in the current rabi marketing season.

In March 2019, the state cabinet had hiked the procurement target by 10% to 5.5 MT. Besides, the government had increased the wheat MSP by 6% from Rs 1,735 per quintal (100 kg) to Rs 1,840 per quintal. The state would additionally pay bonus of Rs 20 per quintal for wheat chafing, thus raising the effective payout to Rs 1,860 a quintal.

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